Retirement of an U.S. Army Reservist and Army Spouse: It’s a Change
Michael J. Davis, Retired Army Reservist
When did you retire, and from what Unit? I retired from the 326th Area Support Group in Kansas City, Kansas. My retirement kind of coincided with my unit deactivating.
How long were you in the Reserves? I served in the Army Reserves and the U.S. Army. I started my Army career as an E-2 way back in 1984, serving seven years active duty. I served just a tad over 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Were you a dual-military family? How long were/have you been an Army spouse? Yes, I was a dual-military. My wife, ReGina, is still an active Army Reservist in the Army Nurse Corp. We have been a dual-military family since day one.
Do you have children? How has retirement affected them? ReGina and I have two children, Anthony and Michaela. Anthony is out of the house now, but Michaela is a very active high school student. Retirement has afforded me more opportunities to attend her events, so I think it has had a positive affect. I mobilized three times to the Middle East in a seven year period, and I know that was tough on the whole family.
When you were not wearing your uniform, did you have another occupation? I sure do. I am a Senior Process Architect for Cerner Corporation. Cerner is a leading health care company that specializes in hospital systems and Electronic Medical Record.
Being an Army spouse, Soldier, parent and civilian employee, how did you juggle it all? I can tell you at times it has been tough to juggle all of those hats, especially during deployments. Fortunately, ReGina’s family has stepped up and filled in when we needed them. On my last deployment to Iraq, ReGina was also mobilized state side. Gina’s mother, Hester Maltbia, stepped in for an entire year and made sure our kids were taken care of while we were both away. Sacrificing for your country is something you do because you love that way of life [Army life]. It takes a commitment that is not for everyone. There have been plenty of times during my career when I wanted to be somewhere or do something else, but I could not because duty called.
What do you like most and least about being an Army spouse? About being a Soldier? I think the best part of being an Army spouse in a dual military family is that you know what your spouse is going through and they understand the commitment you have made. We share in each other’s successes and we can learn from each other. The toughest part is the time away. It is always hard when you are separated because of drill weekend, annual training or deployments. The most gratifying part about being a Soldier is knowing that people respect you for doing your job. I know most Soldiers don’t think they are doing anything special; when in reality, they are making extraordinary sacrifices.
What installations have you served at? And do you have a favorite or memorable one? Wow, I have been to so many different installations: Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Drum, New York; Fort Dix, New Jersey; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Riley, Kansas; NAVCENT (In Bahrain), Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; and Fort Carson, Colorado. My most memorable installation was Fort Knox Kentucky. I went through Basic Training at Fort Knox and who can forget Basic Training. Even though that was almost three decades ago I can still remember every Drill instructors’ name, and I can recite the entire chain of command from 1984 from my squad leader to the U.S. President. Basic is an event I will remember for the rest of my life.
How has retirement affected your life? Retirement has been bittersweet for me. I enjoy the time that has been given back to me, but I sure do miss the people I have served with over the years. I have met and made so many lifelong friends in the Army. I met my wife in the Army.
Do you miss wearing the uniform, going to Drill and being with your Unit? There are certainly times when I miss the Army. I have never had a job that comes close to the camaraderie that you get in the Army. The feeling of accomplishment and teamwork that you get when preparing for and conducting a mission is really unmatched in the civilian world. Not having to figure out what to wear to work was always a bonus for me, too.
Any “retirement” advice to other Reservist about to do the same? The only advice I would give to Soldiers thinking about retiring is to make sure you are ready. Most people think they won’t miss it, but you do.